Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “close eyes and point.” Grab the closest printed material to you when you sit down to write your post, open it up (if it’s a book, flyer, etc.), close your eyes, and point. Whatever your finger lands on, use that as your prompt. Have fun!

I had three choices of material: A day journal, a siddur and my kindle. I fired up the kindle. The book is “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach. The idea pointed to was invite Mara to tea, which is a reference to a Buddhist parable.

Basically, before Buddha (Siddhartha) became enlightened under the bodhi tree, Mara tempted him. Mara is often depicted as a demon and did what demons do—try to cause suffering. Mara failed, Siddhartha became Buddha, Mara wandered off… and stuff. This is a stream of consciousness and it has been a long time since I’ve read eastern philosophy; there’s a good chance I could be getting some of it wrong, but the gist is that Mara is an asshole.

Mara kept showing up, lurking. Buddha saw Mara hanging about, but instead of fighting or resisting Mara, Buddha poured two cups of tea. Buddha acknowledged Mara was there, and invited Mara to sit and chill with some tea. Buddha drank his tea in silence. Mara did more of being an asshole stuff, got nowhere, and eventually left.

The book that gave me this prompt isn’t about Buddhism (although there’s a hefty chunk of it in there), rather it is about a pyschological tool called radical acceptance. Radical acceptance was coined by pyschologist Marsha Linehan, who in 1993 developed dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). DBT was originally used with people who have borderline personality disorder, but it was later found to be useful in many situations, including PTSD. That’s how I know about it, because DBT is being used to treat my C-PTSD.

DBT is too complicated for a single blog post—as is radical acceptance, and it isn’t like I’m an expert in any of it. I’ve included links in the paragraph above if you are interested in learning more. Of course Brach wrote a whole book on radical acceptance. Radical acceptance also utilizes mindfulness, which can take a lifetime to really learn. So the whole thing is a bit complicated, but in one of those simple-to-understand-but-difficult-to-master kind of ways.

Back to inviting Mara to tea: I can really envision this in my head, and I can sink into the imagery. I can imagine sitting at a table, under the spreading branches of a tree, a soft breeze blowing. I certainly can imagine jerks. Some jerks are actual people. Some jerks are my own beliefs and emotions. I see them pacing around over there, the assholes, trying to make me anxious and uneasy, but I have tea. Do you want some? Let me call you by your true name. Come sit. Chat. Tell me what’s on your mind. Let me really see you for what you are, and let me really hear what you have to say. I’m a good listener. I will just sip my tea. Maybe, just maybe, after you spew and do your worst, you’ll get bored with watching me quietly drink tea. Without a word I point to a gathering in the far distance. It is a political convention. I think Mara would have much more traction there to work demonic tricks.

The tea is good.

11 Comments

  1. Glad to have the links. Sounds interesting and I’ll check them out. I was there with you imagining sitting at the table under the tree, feeling the breeze while drinking tea. No jerks though. Assholes be gone. Hehe.

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    1. The site with the links has many little side articles to surf on those and related topics. Eventually the goal is to be able to sit under the tea peacefully sipping tea, and if the jerks and assholes show up… maybe no longer need to label themselves as such. I’m no buddha though, my guess is I’ll keep labeling them. 🙂

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  2. Hi! Happy to see you posting again! You’ve been missed!
    I know about radical acceptance and DBT! I’ve never done DBT though.
    Mindfulness can be so hard to master also!
    Nice stream of consciousness post today! Xoxo

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    1. Thanks for the welcome back. 🙂 Yes, mindfulness, just mindfulness alone, covers a huge area of things, and as you said… difficult to master. ♥

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  3. Some good reading there! Thanks for the links. Mindfulness is something I keep trying. The mind is a chariot with 5 horses. let go of the reins and it runs wild. This helps you hold the reins.

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    1. Thanks 🙂 I’ve not heard the chariot metaphor before but it makes sense. Mindfulness is so easy to read about, but yes, it is something that requires returning to over and over and over before it becomes anything like habit. It is only one component of radical acceptance, and the other bits of r.a. are as easy and as difficult as mindfulness. ♥

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